The Divining Wand

Discovering authors beyond their pages…

Archive for July, 2009

News, Reviews and An Interview

July 09, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Books, Interviews, News

There’s a bit of everything to report for the end of this week, beginning with Holly Kennedy (The Silver Compass, The Penny Tree and The Tin Box), offering some writing inspiration (or maybe just a break away from it all) to fellow authors. Where? Hawaii! For details, please visit Holly’s blog and read Hawaii bound for writing inspiration. Now those are authors who will be going far beyond their pages!

Mia King has received this first “official review for Table Manners due out on August 4, 2009:

“In this the follow-up to Good Things, Deidre McIntosh must figure out the right ingredients to make the recipe for her life work. As she does this, King provides a feast for the imagination, since much of the plot revolves around food. There’s no real doubt that this will end with a happily ever after, but the reader will enjoy getting there. There’s a treat at the end, where several mouthwatering recipes await.”__Sandra Garcia-Myers, Romantic Times

The novel garnered four stars which, according to their guide, translates into compelling — page-turner.

Reviews and blurbs for Crazy Beautiful also have Lauren Baratz-Logsted smiling. Scheduled for release on September 7, 2009, the novel’s early praise includes:

“Somehow, this romance transcends all of its potential pitfalls to create a powerful story about recovery and friendship.”__Kirkus

“Lauren Baratz-Logsted doesn’t write icky, gooey love. She writes stark, broken, gorgeous love. When you need a retreat, when you need to feel something, or when you just need a breather from your own freaky life, this is the love story you’ll run to. Crazy Beautiful has two hearts, one soul. I can’t wait to read it again.” ~ Lisa McMann, New York Times bestselling author of WAKE

“Written in spare, evocative, prose, Lauren Baratz-Logsted crafts a beautiful story of love and redemption so gorgeously rendered I was enthralled from the very first page. This book is simply breathtaking—and one you’ll want to return to again and again!”- Alyson Noël, #1 New York Times bestselling author of EVERMORE

“CRAZY BEAUTIFUL is gripping, with moments of sheer brilliance.” ~ Ellen Hopkins, New York Times bestselling author of CRANK and IMPULSE

And for anyone interested in how this site came to be (as well as a little about me), please visit Suzanne Anderson’s A View From Table One to read The Divining Wand — A New Spell Is Cast. Suzanne has been a great friend and enthusiastic cheerleader and I send her a hundred thank yous!

In Their Own Words

July 08, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Audiocasts, Facebook and Twitter, Interviews

Eve Brown-Waite, debut author of First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria: How A Peace Corps Poster Boy Won My Heart and A Third World Adventure Changed My Life was recently interviewed at The Diva Toolbox. And you can listen to the interview here. You can also find her helpful, tongue-in-cheek article, Travel Tips for Women, which advises what every woman should pack when traveling to the Third World!

Now although Jenny Gardiner (author of Sleeping with Ward Cleaver spent yesterday and today in Orlando, Florida, USA, it might have seemed a bit like the Third World. The good mom that she is, Jenny tells us — via Facebook and Twitter:

“What we do for our kids…long lines, plenty of heat, noise galore, all so she can do what she’s wanted to do for 8 years — have a go at trying out for Amer. Idol. Auditions are in about 6 cities this summer–they’re earlier than usual and maybe halfway done. Kim — we’re there till Thurs night (at the stadium all day Thurs).

“Icky stage mom desperate for lost youth cut in front of us to have face time w/ camera. Botox has frozen her face in a half-smirk/half-kiss look. Must not have gotten the memo on aging gracefully.

“Someone is drumming. A lot. Who brings drums to a singing competition?

“So registration went pretty well. We were done by 9 — yay! Just as the heat started getting oppressive. Info on what NOT to bring tomorrow, in case you had to ask: air mattresses, fireworks, hibachi grills, illegal drugs, weapons, including swords, forged or carved, from any of the middle ages. I’m wondering if someone once actually tried to bring a medieval sword in, and if so, why?

“Oh and the group song everyone will sing all day long at auditions on Thursday is one I already loathe, so after hearing it re-sung about 2000 times I will especially hold it in my heart fondly…It is Lady Gaga’s Poker Face. We’re supposed to know the lyrics by then, by the way. Right-o…”

With fingers crossed for Jenny’s daughter, our fingers are also crossed that a few of the characters the author “meets” in Orlando will appear someday in one of her books. 😉

New Novels, Book Clubs, and Contests

July 07, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: News

Debut novelist Lynne Griffin (Life Without Summer) is thrilled to announce that her next novel, SEA ESCAPE, will be published next summer by Simon & Schuster. Lynne claims that SEA ESCAPE, about a mother trapped in a silent world following a stroke, and her daughter, who becomes desperate to unravel their tangled family history before it’s too late, is a novel she was born to write.

Also this author is visiting book clubs and loving it! Please email her to arrange a visit — by phone or in person — to yours. Contact Lynne:

Rather than having a life without summer, it sounds as though this writer is experiencing a most wonderful summer!

Kristy Kiernan’s third novel, Between Friends, due out on April 6, 2010, is now available for pre-order on Amazon! It has yet to be posted on IndieBound or Barnes & Noble, but once it’s up on Amazon, those are never far behind. If you’re all about covers, here is the “official” art work.

Dismantled by Jennifer McMahon was reviewed in The New York Times Sunday Book Review on July 5th. Of course you read about this suspense novel here on its debut day!

Katie Alender is holding a contest at her website. Enter to win a signed copy of Bad Girls Don’t Die and “some other fun stuff!” The contest ends this Friday, July 10th.

And Carleen Brice with Children of the Waters is featured on Author Buzz this week. She’s also announced a Contest that will giveaway 5 FREE Copies of the novel. Enter by July 31st!

A Summer ’08 Debut TBR Now

July 06, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations

Have you chosen your picks from the “must read” Summer ’09 books yet? As the lazy, hazy days of July stretch ahead into the next three or four weeks, now is the time to fall into a good book…perhaps a few you may have overlooked last year. As a matter of fact, last July Falling Under by Danielle Younge-Ullman debuted amidst a flurry of already established writers’ second or third novels. And, though you may have missed it, critics did not. Visit the Danielle Younge-Ullman Home page and you’ll read amazing praise:

“Fierce, erotic and absolutely fearless…Shocking and moving, Falling Under is as edgy as a razor blade and unlike anything you’ve ever read before.” –Dame Magazine

From Canada’s National Post: “Falling Under is one of the most compelling debut novels I have read in a long time. It is gutsy, emotional, sexually charged and, because of its second-person narrative style, unremittingly intense. Younge-Ullman writes her guts out, hurtling forward, pedal to the floor. The result is a gripping story, crackling with energy.”

“…Here’s a debut novel that delivers. Extreme, and extremely well done!”–Kim Alexander for XM Radio’s Fiction Nation

“…hard hitting and explosive, with a raw energy that left me breathless.” –Good

“Masterful writing…Younge-Ullman is a first rate storyteller…”–The Compulsive Reader

There are many more raves on that page yet you might also be interested in my presentation, reposted from July 21, 2008:



From the Book’s Front Cover:

“A fearless, penetrating debut.” Tish Cohen, author of Town House

When, at an early age, Danielle Younge-Ullman began falling into books and disappearing for days at a time, she knew fiction had her hooked. So she majored in English, graduated from McGill University and spent a few character-building years on stage acting out others’ words. But Danielle finally focused on her own dramatic writing, completing three plays and two novels — one of which, Falling Under, debuts a week from tomorrow, Tuesday, July 29th.

Although the initial glance at this novel, an extraordinarily gripping, urban story that has been frequently praised/described as “edgy,” might suggest a “drama queen” at work, that’s hardly the case. Instead let’s get a more honest impression of the author from her January 24, 2008 post, How I Became a Writer by Deb Danielle Younge-Ullman. And Danielle is living her dream because she was smart enough to question herself, figure her experiences out, and then turn her thoughts to “what if not?”, creating the following backstory:

“I’m someone who made it to my mid-twenties without realizing I was a mess inside. I seemed fine but under the surface I was anxious, plagued with strange fears and making poor choices in my personal life. Around this time, I picked up The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce — a book which posits that the deepest effects of divorce are not seen until the child grows up and is faced with adult relationships. I was astounded to recognize so much of myself on the pages and could finally trace many of my seemingly ridiculous fears back to the time of my parents’ divorce. I did a lot of work on myself after that and slowly got it together. Then, when I was brainstorming for Falling Under, I began to imagine a character who struggled with the same issues, only magnified by a thousand–someone whose life had been much harder than mine, who also thought she was coping but who was, in fact, paralyzed.

“In Falling Under I told a completely different story than the one I lived—more intense, more extreme, much uglier compared to my own family’s divorce, which had a happy ending. The impetus for the character, and the idea I wanted to explore, was how hard it is to have faith—in yourself, other people or the universe—when you have proof from such a young age that everything and everyone you count on, can fall apart. A child who grows up with that knowledge makes every decision in their life based on that worldview and the consequences are fascinating, especially when that child grows into an adult.”

Fascinating, insightful and all too true for many individuals, the backstory worked perfectly as you can read in the novel’s synopsis:

“After growing up as the only child of bitterly divorced parents, Mara Foster has finally gained independence and is embarking on a promising career as an artist. But despite her success, she is fragile. Burdened by a host of fears and anxieties, Mara finds it difficult even to leave her house on most days. When Mara meets Hugo, the walls she has built around herself begin to crumble, and as she struggles to find a breakthrough both in her art and in life, she must come to terms with her own dark secrets in order to get a second chance at happiness”

However the key to success of Falling Under rests on the believability of Mara and in Give Me A Messy Hero by Deb Danielle posted December 13, 2008, the writer explains how she created — then forced — the character to develop. And, although this IS fiction, by making Mara a painter — a creative individual — Deb Danielle already had a jumpstart to a heroine with some unique traits. For as she describes and clarifies:

“It takes a particular kind of courage to make a life in the arts and the people who do it fascinate me. Also, there are so many books (and movies, etc) about people discovering their talents and going on to become great artists, and there are stories about failed artists and tortured artists…but many people are somewhere in between, living in a kind of artistic purgatory where they are almost, sort of, doing their art. They are making a living, but the work itself falls horribly short of their aspirations. They’re novelists who pay the rent writing corporate training manuals, actors working as extras or stuck in a ten year run of Cats and jazz musicians composing jingles. It’s a trap because you can tell yourself you’re making a go of it, but the truth is, you’re miserable, stuck and underachieving in the extreme. That situation seemed like a good one for my very neurotic, nearly paralyzed protagonist. I wanted to see her work her way out of it.”

Having been fortunate to read the Advanced Reader Copy of Falling Under, I readily admit that five-year old, guilt-ridden Mara captured my heart from the novel’s first sentence. And, yes, Mara almost had to be an artist in order for her damaged inner child’s rage to be channeled constructively into an adult. Also there was a familiarity about the protagonist that you may recognize as well. It’s not as though I know someone exactly like Mara, but we all have met people who are a bit too extreme — be it positive or negative — and don’t we wonder why?

Mara’s behavior and emotional turmoil is understandable, though, as she struggles against her fears in her quest for love. And Danielle shows these battles in her edgy, brave writing. Falling Under does not contain your standard chick lit romance fare; it goes beyond that with steamy sex scenes — both dark and intense. Yet nothing feels gratuitous or offensive because as the author notes:

“It’s funny, there’s very little graphic detail—I like to leave a lot to the imagination—but this is a place where I use suggestion, repetition and rhythm in the language to convey what’s happening and the effect is that people think they’ve read something much more graphic than it actually is.”

In fact, there’s so much depth to this book, Danielle even gave its title relevant meaning:

“In so many books (and in life) love is seen as the solution, but in my protagonist Mara’s case, love is a bit of a catastrophe, albeit a catalyst for change in the long run. Mara doesn’t so much fall in love as under it.”

Hopefully you’ve read the glowing praise for Falling Under and realize this is a significant dramatic debut. And what I believe is that this is how those most “talked about” literary writers begin. For the novel is “painfully breathtaking!” Painfully portraying a damaged soul, yet breathtaking in its heartfelt writing and message of hope.

Debutante Danielle Younge-Ullman’s confidently bold voice tells a tale of love in spare, crisp prose and wonderful wry humor. You can pre-order Falling Under online now or purchase it at your local bookstore next Tuesday. Wherever, however you pick up the book, fall under its spell and enjoy!

Well Beyond Hemingway’s Pages

July 02, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Uncategorized

Since we’re about to celebrate America’s birthday, why not raise a toast with one of the country’s most famous author’s drink?

Katie Workman did the research and writing in The Drink Hemingway Made Famous published on June 24, 2009, in The Daily Beast and here’s the beginning of her article:

“Exactly a century ago, an obscure Cuban cocktail named the daiquiri emigrated to America. While Papa loved the Havana version, Nigella Lawson and others remix the classic for a new generation of summer drinkers.

“Ernest Hemingway, it seems universally agreed, would have likely done a shot of Scope if that’s all that was available. But when visiting a dark bar off Havana’s Parque Central called El Floridita, he stumbled upon a drink called the daiquiri and forever changed the way that summer tastes.

“Just try to say the word “daiquiri” and frown. Try it. Can’t do it, right? It’s simply not possible to be cranky when you are talking about making or drinking a daiquiri. A daiquiri is like a little vacation in a glass, and sometimes a little vacation in a glass with a teeny tiny beach umbrella.”

Continue to read and you’ll learn a brief history of daiquiri, along with three different recipes for the classic summer drink, including: Daiquiri Floridita which was Hemingway’s favorite; Daiquiri by Sharon Tyler Herbst; and Watermelon Daiquiri by Nigella Lawson.

Even if you’ll be enjoying a stay-at-home weekend, take that “little vacation in a glass”…and silently thank Hemingway. 😉

Happy Birthday America!

Mia King Preps for Table Manners

July 01, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Advance News, Books

Did you know that author/friend Mia King and her debut novel, Good Things, hold the distinction of being my very first book presentation? Now two and a half years later, there’s only one month and three days left until her third novel (and sequel to Good Things), Table Manners is released on Tuesday, August 4, 2009.

A highly anticipated novel, the book club rights for Table Manners have already been sold to Doubleday, Literary Guild, Rhapsody, and Book of the Month book clubs. And Mia recently learned that there will also be “a nice little/big mailing to book clubs across the country.” Coordinating with that will be call-ins — that is, chats with the author from her home in Hawaii — and even possibly using Skype to reach out and virtually share thoughts on Table Manners with as many readers as possible. So on the things “To Do” list before August 4th, upgrade Mia’s computer!

First, however, there’s an upcoming holiday weekend to celebrate and Mia, well-known for her variety of recipes, has a refreshing summertime beverage to share. Yes you will also find this in Table Manners, but let’s go beyond her pages and enjoy Sparkling Pomegranate Lemonade now:

Serves: 6


* 3 tablespoons sugar
* ½ cup fresh lemon juice
* 1 liter club soda or sparkling water
* 1 cup pomegranate juice
* ice cubes
* Fresh mint sprigs, for garnish


1. Combine sugar and lemon juice. Stir until well dissolved.
2. In a tall pitcher, combine lemon mixture and pomegranate juice.
3. Add club soda and stir.
4. Pour into glasses filled with ice. Garnish with mint sprigs and serve.

Cheers to Mia who, only yesterday, commented on Facebook that she was: “Deliriously happy for no reason other than happiness is a good thing.”

[ Note: Table Manners is available for Pre-order at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.]